Family Tradition: a Forty-eight Hour Bridge Marathon Kicks Off Christmas

No matter what else is going on in December, our friends know that the Revis girls will load a suburban full of wine and Cheetos and drive an hour out of town to play a forty-eight hour bridge tournament. Forty-eight hours? Really? Really.

We can’t not do it. It’s a family tradition.

It all started more than twenty-five years ago. Lucille Revis loved Mexico. She organized her adult daughters to make a road trip to Nuevo Laredo to shop for trinkets and stocking stuffers. After a long day in the market we relaxed with margaritas and cards in the beautiful old Mexican motel, and a tradition was born. The man with the glass shop was so taken with the idea of Lucie and her girls he kept a snapshot of our elderly mother on the wall of his store. The last trip she made, he came out into the aisle of the marketplace to give her a big kiss.

Lucie is gone now. The drug violence drove us out of Nuevo Laredo. (We probably would have kept going, but we were driving our family members berserk with anxiety.) When the little kids grew up they preferred cash to stocking stuffers, so we dropped the shopping and the card game took center stage.

Last week, Moses, the manager of the Quality Inn of Seabrook, Texas, broke out in a delighted smile when our party of six arrived. I think it’s sincere. His out of the way motel is distinguished by his personal touch, including the colorful plastic statue of the tourist bird out front. So we’ve been going back for four years straight. This year our chief negotiator brought out all the coupons and specials of the national chain of Quality Inns to drive Moses’ price down to an embarrassing record low. Next year, she might force him to pay us.

We  take adjoining rooms. On arrival, we set about moving all the furniture and lamps to make space for the card tournament. Because we have six, two of the players rotate out every rubber. They constitute the audience and kibitzers and bar maids who serve the wine and snacks. We’re loud, but no one complains. It’s pretty much non-stop bridge, but we do sleep a few hours each night. On Sunday a champion is declared, money changes hands, and the winner of the booby prize vows revenge.

Six people? These are not the same individuals, it’s not the same schedule, so how does this event relate to Lucie’s long ago road trip to the Mexican border?

  1. We’ve been doing it every year, and though the specifics evolve, it’s the same trip.
  2. It’s a “girl” thing. No children or husbands attend.
  3. It’s a commitment. Bridge requires four people. “They can’t play without me.”
  4. We leave our responsibilities behind and drive away together, even if it’s only a symbolic journey, an hour away to Seabrook.
  5. Certain unique features are constant: wine, souvenir photos, Cheetos and cards. Cheetos are like eggnog, allowed once a year, a special occasion indulgence.

The group now includes, not just Lucie’s girls, but a member from Yorkshire, one from the Netherlands, one from Chile: a worldwide community united by the original impulse to get out and have some fun. Moses himself is from Pakistan. Like the glass man from the Mexican market, he’s happy to see the tourist ladies, returning like the robins. His enthusiasm ensures that we’ll be back to the Seabrook Quality Inn next year. We have to go to Moses’ place. It’s a tradition.